My walk this week started in a local park, crossed frozen marshes, went under and over two railway bridges, crossed a motorway, fields and returned to the park. I saw automobiles on the motorway but no trains and only distant planes. However, I did record the somehow relaxing sound of a light aircraft and the sound of my footsteps on rock hard frozen, frosty fields – the soundscape will be posted tomorrow in my review of the walk.
Reviewing the week this week brings you a video rather than a sequence of still photos. Oh, wait a minute, that’s what a StillWalks video is – still images accompanied by the unique sounds of the walk they illustrate. In fact, in this case, there is actual video included as well and as I stated earlier in the week, all the photos and sounds were recorded on my iPhone 6s as an impromptu StillWalks production – I hope you can sit back, relax and enjoy it.
The puddle below tells the story of the weather and the long horned cows underneath the M4 motorway bridge know that story as well as the farmer and I do. Having constructed a coral for his cattle the farmer has given some convenient shelter to these mothers with their calves and allowed me to walk without fear of being pronged by one of those sharp looking objects.
The railway bridge which also crosses this footpath is made of older material than concrete and the various colours of the stone used create a fascinating pattern within pattern in the construction of the bridge. You will have to watch the video at the end of the week to see more.
The sights and sounds of my walk around the Llys Nini woodland last week illustrate the wetness of the weather we have had this winter.
I had my camera with me, my Edirol RO9 recorder and my iPhone but was frustrated that I had not brought my Fostex FR-2LE field recorder and RODE NTG-3 shot gun mic. It would have been an advantage considering the proximity of the M4 motorway. I am pleased to say, however, that the birds sing regardless of conditions and traffic and care not what recording equipment you may use.
Walking out along the Loughor Estuary last Sunday morning, the weather was still but overcast and the sound of the M4 motorway was even more evident than usual. I love the marshes on the estuary and the old St Teilo’s churchyard, and I normally find that I suppress the sound of traffic in my head and listen instead to the birds, sheep, cattle and wind along with the sound of my footsteps in the grass or mud and the rustling of the reeds.
These are some of the sounds recorded in the StillWalks I have produced here. I did not do any sound recording on Sunday but I got a few shots of the area and thought about how much the sounds we hear are so unique to the time and place we are in. They are the result of things like the weather conditions before and during our visit as well as the activities of others, like driving along the motorway on a Sunday morning to go shopping or visit family or whatever. Twenty five years ago there was virtually no Sunday morning traffic on the M4 but even now the traffic sound can seem distant if the wind is in the right direction or other environmental aspects such as a high tide, rain or time of year change the conditions.
This is something we’ll be looking at on the Sights and Sounds of the Countryside project which you can find out about here or follow on Facebook.
The StillWalks website is offline at the moment due to malicious hackers but you can see 480p versions of two StillWalks from the Loughor Estuary on Vimeo – After the Tide and the Old Churchyard Walk. They will be available to buy in full HD when the site is back up and running.
Here are some photos of the Loughor Estuary and the marshes. Image prints can be purchase at PhotoBox.
The locations of the StillWalks I produce are many and varied – from woodland to coast, townscape to park, I enjoy them all. Pre-production recce walks can sometimes be the most interesting as that is the time of initial discovery if the place is new to me. Production days, however, are the time to look and listen really closely.
Some of the places I have enjoyed most are: Penllergaer Woods, samples of which can be seen in – the Autumn Walks, Woodland Walk 1 and Woodland Walk 2 in Winter Walks. Also the old St Teilo’s Churchyard down on the marshes near where I live can be seen in the Old Churchyard Walk from Summer Walks and Carrick Shore in SW Scotland – Coastal Walk Evening in Spring Walks. One more is on the Swansea cycle route – Abertawe Walk from the Autumn Walks.
Pennlergaer Woods in Winter
M4 Traffic – Pennlergaer and the old churchyard, are both close to the M4 motorway, which is busy at all times. In Penllergaer I find the gradual absorption of the sound of traffic, by the trees and their foliage, as you go deeper into the woods, very attractive. Perhaps it is the contrast of the two adjacent environments that creates a better sense of release from one and welcoming of the other.
On the other hand, I love the walk down to and around the old St Teilo’s Churchyard and you cannot get away from the M4 traffic in this place. I find I “filter out” a lot of the sound from the road and just listen to the birds that can easily pierce the sound of the cars and trucks. The sound recorder does not ignore the traffic of course, but, as I do it subconsciously on location, I feel justified in filtering out some (but not all) of the background road sounds when editing.
StillWalks Works for Me – I tend to use them when I need to take a few minutes out of the working day, relax and focus my mind on something other than work. I also use them at times of stress – this is often when waiting for an approaching event such as a meeting. I use them occasionally at the end of the day too, when I need to wind down before going to sleep.
On the Move – If I am on the move and, therefore, watching a StillWalk on my iPhone, the screen may be small but with headphones plugged in and the video filling the screen, I find I easily “move” into the space of the StillWalk. At all times of viewing on a computer screen, I would always watch the StillWalk in full screen mode and I try to prompt others to do this. Not only do you see more, but full screen view also prevents many other distractions and helps promote your relaxation and enjoyment of the StillWalk.
Still Watching . . . I may have to add one of the latest StillWalks to my favourites list – Moss Wood Walk in the Autumn Walks. This is from Gnoll Park in Neath, South Wales and I have just watched full screen in full HD . . .
Week 6 – Marshwood Birds – Anyone interested in following my weekly recording and photos from this project can find the recordings on SoundCloud and the images on Flickr.